Sunday, September 27, 2009

Derek Mataratones

I've been thinking of changing my name to the title of this post. I saw "mata ratones" (=kills mice) on a mousetrap, and I thought it sounded cool. That, and the fact that I have become the scourge of mice recently. In the last week, I set out 4 traps and caught 5 mice. Yes, two in one trap. I don't think I'm done yet.

The choice of mouse-catching devices is interesting. You can buy mouse poison, which is probably very effective because the mice will take it back to the nest and share it with others, so it will kill all of them. On the other hand, do I really want a nest of dead, smelly mice somewhere in my house? With a regular trap, I get to dispose of them, which is preferable. It is unfortunate to have to kill the little things, but it actually seems more humane than the alternative. I tried a glue trap once, and came home to find a mouse struggling frantically to free himself. Who knows how long he had been there? It was really sad to see. I'd rather just break their spines instantly and get it over with. Plus, I freed the mouse in my backyard (the kids convinced me) and he ran immediately back into the house. The only good thing about that was that he helped me identify a hole, but plugging it hasn't kept other mice from getting in. I could take him out in a field somewhere, but would that be any better? Mice are social animals, and he would be cut off from his whole family. Also, house mice are different than field mice, so he wouldn't be equipped to survive. In all likelihood, he would die at the hands of some animal predator, probably more slowly and in greater pain than from a mousetrap. And if he didn't die that way, his only chance of survival would probably be to find another house to enter, in which case I would just have transferred the problem to someone else.

So I stick with old-fashioned mouse traps. The ones I've been using recently are really old-fashioned, like the ones in cartoons: just a wooden foundation, a spring, a pressure plate, and a catch mechanism. I was spoiled by more modern versions, which have two advanced features. First, to set them you just press down a lever. You don't have to try to get the catch to hold, and you don't risk getting your fingers caught in the trap (which has happened to me once already). Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it to set properly, but it's not a big deal. Second, the trap resides in a plastic shell. This means that you don't actually have to see the mouse once it is caught -- just a tail sticking out. You could argue that it is somehow morally better if you actually see what you killed and had to face a cute little creature caught in your trap, but I don't think so. I've seen them, and it hasn't done anything to deter me from catching them. If anything, it has made me less squeamish about it. I don't have anything against the mice; I just don't want them in my house, and I especially don't want them defecating in my house. If they're going to do that, I have to get rid of them, and this seems like the best option available.

I'm just curious about one thing: why haven't I been able to find the fancier traps in stores recently? I'm not aware of any regulations restricting their sale. It's true that the old-fashioned ones are much less expensive, about $1.50 for a pack of four, instead of $5 for a fancier one. But $5 doesn't seem like that much for a trap, and the new ones are easier to re-use, since you just press a lever to drop the dead mouse out; I haven't tried to pry the bar off of one of the cheaper traps to release the mouse, preferring to just throw the whole gadget away.

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